Detention without trial in the United Kingdom: From empire to the 'War on Terror'
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This thesis analyses detention without trial in the United Kingdom by applying a socio-legal lens to several instances where these extra-judicial powers have been adopted. What will emerge from this examination is twofold. Firstly, detention without trial in the state of emergency, as seen through five case studies, is inherently violent. The architecture of the camp lends itself to physical violence, but moreover, a space is created which demands detainee submission to camp authorities as proxy agents of the state. Slavoj Zizek developed a model of violence as a triumvirate, in which subjective violence, that is, 'directly visible' violence performed by a clearly identifiable agent,¿ forms the most obvious portion, but it is also sustained by two types of 'objective violence.' The manifest violence that occurs in sites of detention is analysed, but the thesis also probes the more profound silent violence; what Zizek terms 'symbolic violence,' which is 'embodied in language and its forms.' On one level, symbolic violence can be connected with hate speech and incitement to hatred, but it also pertains to the 'imposition of a certain universe of meaning.' Secondly, the thesis examines the 'universe of meaning' surrounding detention which is disseminated within the 'liberal state' that denies its own violence and hides the 'systemic violence' of the state. 'Systemic violence', the other form of objective 'invisible' violence, is, the often catastrophic consequences of the smooth functioning of our economic and political systems.' In this study, systemic violence is the result of the smooth functioning of emergency legal systems created by politico-executive decisionism. Whereas detention without trial challenges some of the foundational precepts of the democratic state, law gives the institution and its techniques a mantle of legitimacy, and the violence becomes invisible. Periodic outbursts or acts of aggression that occur in detention are generally portrayed as aberrant against this invisible violence. Therefore, to appreciate the violence of the camp in its totality, it is necessary to deconstruct the symbolic violence of language and law, and highlight the quiet systemic violence that accompanies the architecture of detention. These extrajudicial structures outside common law jurisdiction are underpinned by discourse that imposes an interpretative framework of detainee difference, emphasising their 'essential' violent tendencies, claiming that this threat is such that rule of law standards must be abrogated. Departing from Zizek, the thesis further argues that the violent framework of detention is sustained by an underlying culture of impunity; detention without trial makes individuals more vulnerable to manifest and 'symbolic violence' but abuses and violations that occur in these sites have proven extremely difficult to prosecute, because of structural obstacles, and the 'consequences of the smooth functioning' of emergency law regulatory frameworks.
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